Channeling vintage alternative and grunge vibes with an almost-punk sensibility and passion for the DIY ethos, the collective known as HAIRGUM is slowly but surely making themselves know through good ol’ fashioned hard work – consistently writing new songs and playing gigs anywhere and everywhere they can.
Though theirs is a band that would rather let the music speak for itself, it’s definitely not because they’re all shy to be in the limelight, as the band’s members have all had their share of experience: vocalist/guitarist Jigs Vista played with Riflekid, bassist Lee Mendoza also plays for Concrete Sam, guitarist and vocalist Jose Tolentino was part of millennial rock outfit Butchercons and drummer Dani Pajarillo plays bass for Giniling Festival, groups that have had their fair share of recognition and popularity.
Aside from recently releasing their second single “Preloved” on digital music platforms, Hairgum also contributed a cover of the ultra-popular single “Sunroof” to the Sick Viral Versions compilation this year. PULP.PH decided it was time for a chat with the band.
PULP: Feel free to tell us the story behind Hairgum: how you were formed, how you got together and the whole idea behind being a band.
Jigs: Jose and I have been long-time friends since the early 2000s – we played in different bands back then, but we shared a lot of stages. One day around mid-2022, I reached out to him and he was down to start a project, so we met up, started writing and sharing songs and that was it! We came up with songs and hit the studio. After trying out a couple of drummers, I remembered Dani, who used to play bass for Giniling Festival… I knew he also played drums, and I was surprised he was also game to join us. Lee was our bass player from the start, but had to leave abruptly, but fortunately for us, she rejoined and the rest is history.
Dani: So yeah, I was the sixth pick to be their drummer! Kidding aside, I used to own a rehearsal studio back in the day, Jigs and his band frequently went there to jam while Jose’s band and I frequently encountered each other during gigs. Safe to say, I’m a fan of their work in their respective bands. One day, Jigs messaged me asking if I could play drums for them. I didn’t hesitate.
PULP: Tell us about the band’s overall sound and direction: was it what you had planned from the get-go? What was the first jam like?
Lee: When I first heard the demos by Jigs and Jose, before we actually jammed together, I thought that it was the kind of music you’d put on while taking a road trip or while you’d be heading to the beach or some relaxed spot. Initially, it gave me the impression of a laid-back 90s garage rock band, with an easy-to-listen-to vibe. The first jam session was a little awkward for me because it was my first time meeting them face to face, but honestly, it turned out quite nicely.
Dani: It was easy, to be honest. Since they already had demos for the songs, for me it was just putting my own tastes in.
PULP: Did things like writing songs and playing come easier this time around because of the previous experience you all have playing for your former bands?
Dani: In a way, yes… but it was also because the genre was a familiar one; we’re in a comfortable space: old but refreshing. So it’s really been fun.
Jose: For me, everyone has their own thing, and it feels different and new every time I start something with other creative people. But yes, having the experience of being in different bands before definitely helps a lot.
PULP: So how do you manage all of that creativity?
Jose: In my experience playing with these guys, they always complement whatever material I present to them. I guess I’m a lucky guy! I just think that everyone knows what’s best for whatever song we are working on. Everyone’s input is very important in my opinion.
Jigs: It is tricky in a way that it’s helpful for the band since ideas are thrown in and we can just pick out the best ones that would fit in a song. I say some normal clashes would mostly come between me and Jose anyway since we’re the ones writing the songs and melodies, specifically…
PULP: Your first single “Slow Talks” definitely has that 90s indie/college rock/alternative vibe to it, be it the approach of the vocals or even the way the song was recorded: that thick, alternative/crunchy layers of distortion, and jangly rhythms under it. How did you capture that sound? Describe the recording process.
Jigs: We’re definitely proud of “Slow Talks.” It was one of our usual song writing nights: Jose gave me the intro riff and chorus chords and melodies and it stuck with me… I went home with it and couldn’t take my mind off it, so I started working on it the next day. I wrote the verses and choruses and sent it back to Jose. It was how we really wanted our sound to be: the guitar parts were complimenting each other plus the vocal arrangement was perfect. When we first completed and played it, in my head, I was like: “Hell yeah! That’s Hairgum right there!”
Jose: “Slow Talks” is definitely a bedroom track [laughs]! We didn’t record that in a proper studio. Big props to Zyme of Green Sushi Records (and of Orca fame…) who helped us a ton! We just worked on whatever equipment we had, like a first generation Focusrite Scarlett [interface].
PULP: You mentioned the band is releasing all-new music soon. What details can you share about it?
Lee: I’m actually feeling pretty pumped about the release because we had an absolute blast recording our parts for this. There were happy accidents and we got to know each other a bit more during the process.
Jigs: I love how we really stick to our 90s-alternative-grungy sound. People can expect more material like that from us. Some months ago, we recorded a few of our songs and we plan to release it before the year ends. The new single is exciting too, because it has…trumpets! Something we dared to try and put in, and it turned out so well!
PULP: I’m glad you mentioned “Preloved” because it is sonically polished compared to your first. What did you do differently? And what’s the story behind the song?
Jose: The song is about a friend of mine who sells preloved items but eventually got into a bus accident. He’s fine though! I guess it’s a bit different compared to the first single because we recorded this at a proper studio this time (at Mindscapes Lab) and of course the drums are from a real drum kit!
Jigs: We have been playing that song live for quite some time now so the song subsequently changed and matured overtime. When we were working on “Preloved,” I was listening to a lot of Anthony Green’s Boom. Done. album and I got the idea of adding trumpets since it would perfectly fit the song’s vibe: and magically, it does!
PULP: Now that Hairgum is building momentum with these releases, what’s the ultimate plan for the band? And what other goals do you have aside from releasing music?
Jose: For me the ultimate goal and plan is for us to continue making more music while life is still letting us do it.
Lee: In addition to our primary goal of continuously crafting songs and performing them live as long as we’re able, we might explore some other exciting endeavors. PULP
You can listen to Hairgum’s latest single “Preloved” here:
Follow them on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/hairgumisarockband and on Instagram through: